Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah and Luigi Antonelli’s A Man Confronts Himself both had their origin in 1918, as mass slaughter from the Great War, an assault on traditional values by the Russian Revolution, and the devastation of the flu pandemic created a fascination with the extension of human life. Both dramatists juxtapose immortality with the grotesque business of ordinary life. However, Antonelli sounds a traditionalist warning, while Shaw looks forward to unleashed potential. Though Shaw’s work strives for philosophical purity, it forfeits the powerful tensions of the grotesque, which seeks to live life even in the midst of death.

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